Unwanted Gifts: What Do YOU Do?

This may be a touchy subject, but I think it is especially relevant now with all these toy recalls.

How do you handle gifts that you don’t want?

There’s a story going around that Christina Aguilera (generally known for diva behavior) has thrown out some toys from her husband’s family.

According to the story, it is because they were from Babies R Us and not from the chic boutiques she believes better fit her celeb status.

We don’t know if the story is even true, or if that is in fact the reason she disposed of the gifts.

Aside from such snobbery, though, what if the gifts you receive just do not reflect your values or, worse, you are concerned about whether or not the toys are safe?

Obviously no one should ever feel obligated to give a gift…and it is truly the thought that counts. I always appreciate that someone thought of me and my family, regardless of what the actual gift is–a card is always lovely, too! But, whether you are pledging to toss everything from China after the lead paint scares, ban all Bratz paraphernalia, or donate items with licensed characters, is there any polite way to communicate this to friends and family who are likely to give gifts to your kiddos?

I have a friend who recently sent out an informational e-mail about stores and brands that are made in the USA. And on Mamanista I’ve been creating a list of stores that take special care in ensuring the safety of their toys and informing their customers about where the toys were made. Right now I have those stores starred on our shop page and soon I’ll be posting some of my favorite picks. You could also point people to some of the lists at Crunchy Domestic Goddess or the great independent and sometimes handmade finds at Cool Mom Picks.

But some people still either won’t get the hint or won’t care about your concerns. So, what do you do then?

Are you a terrible person if you write a nice thank you note and then return store bought gifts? Better to put them in a box and take them out when the gift giver visits and then donate when enough time has passed? Or just keep them around, even if you are not comfortable with the gift?

Is there a right way to go about this?

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on this topic!

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. i’ve been thinking about this lately myself. not sure what is the right way to handle it. it’s certainly a touchy subject.

    my husband just told his mom pointblank that we are trying to get rid of the plastic toys in our house so any plastic toy christmas gifts might get tossed. not sure what she thought about that.

    my parents are pretty good about asking me if a gift is acceptable before they give it and i appreciate that.

  2. Mum2Bub says:

    Good question! Yes, it is kinda a touchy subject…

    I think if someone does it, as Christina *may* have, just because of where the toys are from, thats rude ans innapropriate. Saying the toys arent “expensive” enough is ridiculous, cause we moms all know the toys kids like the most are rarely expensive! Heck, they are usually more interested in the packaging anyway! lol

    As far as innappropriate, my dd has recieved her share from MIL. Things that are just plain age innappropriate (a toy baby stroller to push around when she was just learning to crawl) to morally unfit (dolls with bottles, as we only promote breastfeeding in this house!)have been her most frequent offenders. lol

    They usually either end up in our spare room until they *are* age appropriate, or the offending accessories (read:bottles) are thrown out with the packaging, right in front of a speechless MIL. hehehe. Hey, maybe it will get my point across???

    Anyway, I think we as parents have the final say in what our kids have, and if its truly not suitable, I have no problem getting rid of it. I would never hurt someones feelings and tell them they didnt spend enough! :ox

  3. Mamma Miller says:

    Every year around Birthdays and Holidays I take the time to make “Wish List’s” for each person in my house. While it is very time consuming and not everyone follows the list, it does give them ideas of we want not only for ourselves, but our children as well. It has really cut down on the unwanted gift getting in our house.

  4. Kailasmom says:

    We always donate “unwanted” gifts our daughter receives. There are alos less fortunate kids we give the stuff to. Usually now however, people give gift receipts so we return the gift and have our daughter pick out something she wants.

  5. BirdieRoark says:

    This year we have a no-toys rule. All toys will be returned or re-gifted. Instead, we given ideas for books, crafts, board games, etc. Both of our parents are divorced so we’ve also requested that before they buy and big gift, they clear it with us first. Of course, we learned this after 3 of the 4 grandparents showed up with a tricycle for his 2nd birthday.

    For kid b-day parties, I actually write on the invitation to “kindly limit presents to a small book.” We get great books that way and then I don’t have to worry about the kids fighting over the toys or about what is age appropriate, etc. I’ve never had a problem with parents not appreciating or respecting the request.

  6. Glad to read this here. (And find your blog, of course!)

    I’m re-thinking my own family’s rules of toy buying in light of recent recalls.

    In the end, I decided that the people who don’t know us well enough to buy the kinds of toys we like–are probably the people who won’t notice if the toys are discreetly exchanged.

    And yes, that includes some in-laws, unfortunately.